Each year since their first album release in 2014, KAIA String Quartet has been more and more widely recognized, not only for the excellence of their musical performances, but also for the creative and careful way they choose the music they present. KAIA is the Chicago-based String Quartet of Victoria Moreira, violin, Naomi Culp, violin, Amanda Grimm, viola, and Hope Shepherd DeCelle, cello and by their own description they are "devoted to capturing the essence of Latin American culture through the medium of the string quartet". In their four previous album releases, they've done exactly that, successfully and imaginatively.
On January 31st, 2019, KAIA String Quartet will release their fifth album, Sureño, with a performance at The Fulton Street Collective (1821 W. Hubbard Street Suite 307 Chicago, IL 60622). Sureño, which means "from the south", includes Ástor Piazzolla's Estaciones Porteñas (The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires) as well as works by Piazzolla's cellist and friend, José Bragato.
INSIDE OSC asked KAIA's Victoria Moreira, co-concertmaster of The Oistrakh Symphony of Chicago, to tell us more about KAIA String Quartet and Sureño, and here's what she shared with us:
INSIDE OSC: Each of the members of KAIA String Quartet is an accomplished classical musician, and yet you are clearly able to reach beyond purely classical repertory. In fact, the iconic Jazz magazine Downbeat said of one of your recent releases, “The album beautifully blurs the lines between jazz, classical, Latin and world music” and at the same time Howard Reich, writing in the Chicago Tribune, chose that album as one of the “Best Classical Recordings of 2018”. Can you tell us how your classical training influences your approach to all of the different styles and voices that KAIA String Quartet expresses?
Victoria Moreira: As classical musicians our training is always very focused on precision, and not only technical precision, but musical as well. There is an enormous degree of discipline and dedication behind being a classical musician. This pays off because it makes you be more in touch with your instrument in all ways. It almost becomes an extension of your body! This connection makes the music in a way flow through your bones!
We all have a beautiful love for the music we play and it doesn’t really matter what style it is, as long as it’s something we find a connection with. We all have different backgrounds and musical preferences, but when we are in the quartet, somehow we all become one, as if we are learning from one another. The ability to be versatile is something that is of very high value, and having spent all of our lives working for that is what makes it possible.
INSIDE OSC: Your new album Sureño is being released on January 31st, and in your previous albums, KAIA String Quartet has explored a wide range of musical ideas. What are some of the ideas that you focused on in creating Sureño? Can you give us an idea of how the process of making the album explored those ideas?
Victoria Moreira: Yes! For a really long time we wanted to record the Piazzolla’s Four Seasons, which my Dad. Gerardo Moreira, arranged for us beautifully. These are pieces that are played all over the world, but quite honestly it’s hard to find arrangements just for strings that really are able to maintain the absolute essence of the composition. These arrangements do that.
That being said, we have been playing these in concerts for quite some time now, but when it came to recording them, nothing really came to mind that would be a perfect pair, in terms of other works to put with them on the album . About two years ago, we came across the piece by Bragato, and got very excited! Just for a bit of background, my Dad, who is a cellist, studied with Bragato and was very close to him until his death last year (he was 101 years old!!!!!). Bragato was Piazzolla's friend, colleague, confident and what not! Their music is clearly connected and so were their lives. You can see all the connections here. These seemed a perfect pair musically because they both represent a culture, but with their own unique voice. Sureño means from the south, specifically from Buenos Aires in this case. The album represents the connection between these two amazing musicians and the connection that our quartet has to their music. We dedicated this album to my Dad, who has been an incredible mentor not only to me but to the whole quartet.
KAIA String Quartet will release their new album Sureño on Junuary 31, 2019 at their CD Release Concert and Party at The Fulton Street Collective (1821 W. Hubbard Street Suite 307 Chicago, IL 60622, Telephone 773-852-2481). Doors open 7:30pm; Concert at 8:00pm • Tickets $15 General Admission; $10 Student